Last updated: August 25. 2013 6:03AM - 223 Views

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As the spring homebuying season gets under way, the real estate market locally and nationally is looking rosier than it has in many years, according to industry data.

“I think its incredible concerning what we have gone through,” said Joseph Guagenti of Azzarello’s Realty and president of the West Central Association of Realtors. “We are in a great position in the state of Ohio and locally as well.”

The number of homes sold across Ohio jumped more than 10 percent in February, as the market posted gains in activity for the 20th consecutive month, according to the Ohio Association of Realtors.

“With each passing month we continue to make progress in building a solid foundation for a sustainable and growing housing market in Ohio moving forward,” said association President Thomas J. Williams. “Attaining 20 straight months of gains in activity — our longest stretch of uninterrupted sales growth since we began collecting data in 1998 — is tremendous testament to the desire among our fellow Ohioans to make the American Dream of homeownership a reality.

A similar trend is seen in national sales according to Realtor.com’s February 2013 national housing data. Homes sold faster last month than in any February since 2007. And U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose to 4.98 million in February, the most in more than three years.

In Ohio, sales through the first two months of 2013 reached 14,624, a 14.3 percent increase from the 12,794 sales posted during the same period a year ago. The average sales price (January through February) this year is $122,748, a 6.1 percent increase from the $115,694 mark set during the period a year ago.

“The ongoing recovery of the Ohio housing market is widespread … with 17 of the 20 markets we track showing gains in activity so far in 2013 and our prices rising in 15 of our reporting areas,” Williams said. “Having so many of our individual markets record positives in a state as diverse as Ohio — with its unique blend of big urban markets and smaller, rural locales — is an indication that the Buckeye State is making significant headway in its recovery effort.”

In west-central Ohio, 82 units were sold last month, which was a 3.5 percent decline from last year’s 85 units. However, the houses sold for more.

The total sales volume for last month was $7.78 million for an average sales price of $94,897. In 2012, the total sales volume was less despite more units sold. The volume was $7.12 million for an average sales price of $83,754. So the average sales price for last month went up 13.3 percent compared to February 2012.

“It’s better for the seller than the buyer right now in our area,” Guagenti said.

Even with the slight decrease in sales for February, total sales in the Lima area for 2013 is up compared with the first two months of 2012.

In the first two months of this year, 169 homes have been sold in west-central Ohio, a 1.8 percent increase from last year’s 166. Total sales volume increased 19.1 percent from $13.33 million in 2012 to $15.88 million this year. The average price of a home sold in the region increased 17 percent from $80,296 last year to $93,971 this year.

“Buyers are taking advantage of the ideal conditions prevalent in today’s marketplace, with historic low interest rates and attractive pricing,” Williams said. “Additionally, there’s a renewed sense — despite the economic ebbs and flows — that housing remains a wise long-term investment.”

Guagenti also said some of that increase in sales prices stems from the good news that there are fewer repossessions and bank sales.

Statewide, total dollar volume this year is nearly $1.8 billion, a 21.3 percent increase from the two-month mark of a year ago of nearly $1.5 billion.

Homes are also selling faster.

Nationally, homes were on the market for a median of 98 days last month, down from 123 days in February 2011, according to Realtor.com. That means half the homes listed for sale in February were on the market for less than 98 days and half for more than that.

Guagenti said sometimes he and a client will choose five houses to go see and two or three of them will have been sold before they even get there to look at them.

The number of homes reaching the market are also in decline, which explains the increased sales prices.

Nationwide, the inventory of homes are hitting record lows. The number listed for sale in January fell to a 4.2-month supply, almost an eight-year low, the National Association of Realtors reported. Its data show all homes were on the market in January for a median 71 days, down from 99 days a year earlier.

Overall, these numbers have Ohio Realtors confident in the marketplace.

A recent survey of Realtors show that 93 percent described the current housing market in their area as moderate to strong; a significant increase from the 77 percent a year ago.

Or, as Guagenti put it, “If people want to buy a house … they need to act quickly.”

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